Bedfordshire academics launch new tool to help wellbeing of social workers

Fri 06 December, 2019
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A revolutionary new process to help improve organisational resilience in child and family social work has been launched by academics from the University of Bedfordshire.

Underpinned by 10 years of research into the wellbeing of social workers, Dr Louise Grant, Executive Dean for the School of Health and Social Sciences at the University of Bedfordshire, and Gail Kinman, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology, have designed the Social Work Organisational Resilience Diagnostic (SWORD) tool. This assesses the extent to which organisational factors and conditions support the wellbeing of their staff and promote optimum social work practice.

SWORD, which was co-produced with partners from across the Research in Practice children’s social care network, includes a diagnostic survey that will provide feedback to organisations and an associated workbook that contains targeted tasks and strategies to be used by social workers, leaders, and managers to support organisational improvements and promote best social work practice.

SWORD officially launched on Thursday 5 December at an event at University of Bedfordshire, which is the top ranking University in the UK for Social Work in the 2019 Guardian League tables. Alongside sector experts, Dr Grant discussed how the resource can be used to address some of the key challenges the profession is facing and how resilience can be built within organisations.

Dr Louise Grant said: “Being able to work with social workers at all levels in developing this tool has been a real honour. Social Work is a great profession but needs to be supported by an organisational culture which enable social workers to thrive not merely survive.

“We really hope that this tool will enable organisations to create the right working conditions for social workers so that they, in turn, can concentrate on using all their skills knowledge and experience to support the people they work with to ensure good outcomes.”

Professor Kinman said: “Social work is a very rewarding profession, but the risk of stress and burnout is high with serious costs to individuals and organisations. We are delighted to be launching this tool that will help develop organisational cultures to support resilience and wellbeing in social workers and enhance the service they provide.”

Susannah Bowyer, Assistant Director of Research in Practice, said: “‘Research in Practice has been delighted to work in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire on this new diagnostic tool, designed to assess the extent that organisational factors and conditions support the wellbeing of child and family social workers.

“The accompanying online workbook offers evidence-informed approaches to building organisational strengths in areas identified as needing development. We, alongside Gail and Louise, are pleased to be entering a phase two of this project with the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, in which we will build upon our work to ensure the diagnostic and workbook can be used across both child and family and adult social work.

“We hope that the tool and resources will support organisational and professional wellbeing, and therefore enable individuals to support the children, young people and families they work with to ensure good outcomes.”

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